pp 11-15 Perspectives
``The two big problems – the nature of development and the nature of the mind – are being subdued. I don’t know whether there will be beautiful, general theories to come out of this – something really nice like Watson and Crick’s double helix – or whether there will be an accumulation of more and more details. I’ll confess to a secret hope for the former” (Crow 2000).
pp 17-20 Series
pp 21-25 Brief communication
Cystinosis, an inherited disease caused by a defect in the lysosomal cystine transporter (CTNS), is characterized by renal proximal tubular dysfunction. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) depletion appears to be a key event in the pathophysiology of the disease, even though the manner in which ATP depletion occurs is still a puzzle. We present a model that explains how a futile cycle that is generated between two ATP-utilizing enzymes of the 𝛾-glutamyl cycle leads to ATP depletion. The enzyme 𝛾-glutamyl cysteine synthetase (𝛾-GCS), in the absence of cysteine, forms 5-oxoproline (instead of the normal substrate, 𝛾-glutamyl cysteine) and the 5-oxoproline is converted into glutamate by the ATP-dependant enzyme, 5-oxoprolinase. Thus, in cysteine-limiting conditions, glutamate is cycled back into glutamate via 5-oxoproline at the cost of two ATP molecules without production of glutathione and is the cause of the decreased levels of glutathione synthesis, as well as the ATP depletion observed in these cells. The model is also compatible with the differences seen in the human patients and the mouse model of cystinosis, where renal failure is not observed.
This paper re-examines the evolution of the scrotum and testicular descent in the context of the recent phylogeny of mammals. The adaptive significance of testicular descent and scrotality is briefly discussed. We mapped four character states reflecting the position of testes and presence of scrotum onto recent mammalian phylogeny. Our results are interpreted as follows: as to the presence of testicondy in Monotremata and most of Atlantogenata, which represent the basal group of all eutherians, we argue that primary testicondy represents a plesiomorphic condition for Eutheria as well as for all mammals. This is in opposition to the previous hypothesis of Werdelin and Nilsonne that the scrotum may have evolved before the origin of mammals and then repeatedly disappeared in many groups including monotremes. We suggest that the scrotum evolved at least twice during the evolutionary history of mammals, within Marsupialia and Boreoeutheria, and has subsequently been lost by many groups; this trend is especially strong in Laurasiatheria. We suggest that the recent diversity in testicular position within mammals is the result of multiple selection pressures stemming from the need to provide conditions suitable for sperm development and storage, or to protect the male gonads from excessive physical and physiological disturbance.
The silver catfish (Rhamdia quelen) is an endemic American fish species. The sperm of each species has its own peculiarities and biological characteristics, which influence the success of mass DNA transfer methods. Our objective in this study was to evaluate different sperm-mediated gene transfer (SMGT) methods to obtain transgenic silver catfish. Different treatments for the incorporation of a foreign pEGFP plasmid group were used: (1) dehydrated/rehydrated (DR), (2) dehydrated/rehydrated/electroporated (DRE), (3) electroporated (E), (4) incubated with seminal plasma (INC); and (5) incubated in the absence of seminal plasma (INCSP). Sperm motility, time of activity duration (TAD), fertilization rate (FR), hatching rate (HR) and sperm morphology were also evaluated. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) positivity rates for the presence of the transgene were: DRE 60%; DR 40%; E 25%; INC 5% and INCSP 25%. The rates of embryo EGFP expression were: DRE 63%; DR 44%; E 34%; INC 8% and INCSP 38%. The fertilization rate in the control and DRE treatments groups were higher than in the DR group, but the E, INC and INCSP treatment groups had the lowest rate. The hatching rates of the DRE, DR and control groups were higher than in the INCSP, INC and E treatment groups (𝑃 > 0.05). There were no differences among the DRE and DR, E and DR, E and INCSP groups in expression and PCR positivity rates of enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) in embryos. Scanning electron microscopy also did not show any change in sperm morphology among treatment groups. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on transgene transmission of exogenous DNA into silver catfish larvae through SMGT technology
To gain better insight into how soybean roots respond to waterlogging stress, we carried out proteomic profiling combined with physiological analysis at two time points for soybean seedlings in their early vegetative stage. Seedlings at the V2 stage were subjected to 3 and 7 days of waterlogging treatments. Waterlogging stress resulted in a gradual increase of lipid peroxidation and in vivo H2O2 level in roots. Total proteins were extracted from root samples and separated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE). A total of 24 reproducibly resolved, differentially expressed protein spots visualized by Coomassie brilliant blue (CBB) staining were identified by matrix assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry or electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS) analysis. Of these, 14 proteins were upregulated; 5 proteins were decreased; and 5 were newly induced in waterlogged roots. The identified proteins include well-known classical anaerobically induced proteins as well as novel waterlogging-responsive proteins that were not known previously as being waterlogging responsive. The novel proteins are involved in several processes, i.e. signal transduction, programmed cell death, RNA processing, redox homeostasis and metabolisms of energy. An increase in abundance of several typical anaerobically induced proteins, such as glycolysis and fermentation pathway enzymes, suggests that plants meet energy requirement via the fermentation pathway due to lack of oxygen. Additionally, the impact of waterlogging on the several programmed cell death- and signal transduction-related proteins suggest that they have a role to play during stress. RNA gel blot analysis for three programmed cell death-related genes also revealed a differential mRNA level but did not correlate well with the protein level. These results demonstrate that the soybean plant can cope with waterlogging through the management of carbohydrate consumption and by regulating programmed cell death. The identification of novel proteins such as a translation initiation factor, apyrase, auxin-amidohydrolase and coproporphyrinogen oxidase in response to waterlogging stress may provide new insight into the molecular basis of the waterlogging-stress response of soybean.
Early-life endocrine intervention may programme hippocampal glucocorticoid receptor (GR) expression and cause psychiatric disorders in later life. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) has been implicated in the regulation of neuroendocrine and behavioural responses, but it is yet to be determined whether and how neonatal GLP-1 overexpression may modify hippocampal GR expression and thus programme adolescent behaviour in rats. Two-dayold pups were injected intramuscularly with vacant plasmid (VP) or plasmid DNA encoding secretory GLP-1 (GP). Anxiety-related behaviour was assessed in the elevated plus maze (EPM) test at 8 weeks of age. Plasma corticosterone levels were measured with enzyme immunoassay (EIA). Protein and mRNA levels were determined by western blot and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), respectively. The DNA methylation status of the GR exon 17 promoter was determined by bisulphate sequencing PCR (BSP). GP rats exhibited anxiolytic behaviour compared with their VP counterparts. Hippocampal GLP-1 receptor (GLP-1R) and GR mRNA expression were significantly elevated in GP rats without a significant difference in plasma corticosterone. Significant reduction in DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) expression was observed in GP rats disconnected with alterations in DNA methylation of the GR exon 17 promoter. Nevertheless, mRNA expression of nerve growth factor-inducible protein A (NGFI-A) was significantly elevated in GP rats. These results suggest that neonatal intramuscular injection of plasmid DNA encoding GLP-1 affects anxiety behaviour in adolescent rats, probably through NGFI-A-activated upregulation of hippocampal GR expression.
Wolbachia are symbiotic endobacteria that infect the majority of filarial nematodes, including Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Onchocerca volvulus. Recent studies have suggested that Wolbachia are necessary for the reproduction and survival of filarial nematodes and have highlighted the use of antibiotic therapy such as tetracycline/doxycycline as a novel method of treatment for infections caused by these organisms. Before such therapy is conceived and implemented on a large scale, it is necessary to assess the prevalence of the endosymbiont in W. bancrofti from different geographical locations. We present data from molecular and electron microscopic studies to provide evidence for Wolbachia symbiosis in W. bancrofti microfilariae collected from two districts (Bankura and Birbhum) of West Bengal, India.
Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) is an economically important pathogen of cattle and sheep belonging to the genus Pestivirus of the family Flaviviridae. Although the BVDV non-structural N-terminal protease (Npro) acts as an interferon antagonist and subverts the host innate immunity, little is known about its immunogenicity. Hence, we expressed a recombinant BVDV Npro–His fusion protein (28 kDa) in E. coli and determined the humoral immune response generated by it in rabbits. The antigenicity of the Npro protein was confirmed by western blot using anti-BVDV hyperimmune cattle, sheep and goat serum, and anti-Npro rabbit serum. When rabbits were immunized with the Npro protein, a humoral immune response was evident by 4 weeks and persisted till 10 weeks post immunization as detected by ELISA and western blot. Despite Npro-specific antibodies remaining undetectable in 80 serum samples from BVDV-infected sheep and goats, BVDV hyperimmune sera along with some of the field cattle, sheep and goat sera with high BVDV neutralizing antibody titres were found positive for Npro antibodies. Our results provide evidence that despite the low immunogenicity of the BVDV Npro protein, a humoral immune response is induced in cattle, sheep and goats only with repeated BVDV exposure.
A repertoire of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) was generated against the midgut proteins of Anopheles culicifacies mosquitoes. The mAbs AC-43 and AC-29 significantly inhibited Plasmodium vivax development inside the mosquito midgut. The number of oocysts that developed was reduced by 78.6% when mosquitoes ingested a combination of these two mAbs along with the blood meal. AC-43 mAb binds to the epitope common in 97, 80 and 43 kDa polypeptides from the midgut protein extract, as indicated by western blot analysis. Similarly, the mAb AC-29 recognized 52, 44, 40 and 29 kDa polypeptides. These female midgut-specific polypeptides are shared between An. culicifacies and An. stephensi, two major vectors of malaria in India. Deglycosylation assays revealed that 𝑂-linked carbohydrates are the major components in epitopes corresponding to AC-43 and AC-29. Gold particle labelling revealed that both these mAbs preferentially bind to glycoproteins at the apical microvilli and the microvillus-associated network present inside transverse sections of the gut epithelium. These regions are particularly known to have receptors for ookinetes, which enable them to cross this epithelial barrier and provide them with certain necessary chemicals or components for further development into oocysts. Therefore, these glycoproteins appear to be potential candidates for a vectordirected transmission-blocking vaccine (TBV).
Amannose-binding lectin (Narcissus tazetta lectin [NTL]) with potent antiviral activity was isolated and purified from the bulbs of the Chinese daffodil Narcissus tazetta var. chinensis, using ion exchange chromatography on diethylaminoethyl (DEAE)-cellulose, affinity chromatography on mannose–agarose and fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC)-gel filtration on Superose 12. The purified lectin was shown to have an apparent molecular mass of 26 kDa by gel filtration and 13 kDa by SDS–PAGE, indicating that it is probably a dimer with two identical subunits. The cDNA-derived amino acid sequence of NTL as determined by molecular cloning also reveals that NTL protein contains a mature polypeptide consisting of 105 amino acids and a C-terminal peptide extension. Three-dimensional modelling study demonstrated that the NTL primary polypeptide contains three subdomains, each with a conserved mannose-binding site. It shows a high homology of about 60%–80% similarity with the existing monocot mannose-binding lectins. NTL could significantly inhibit plaque formation by the human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) with an IC50 of 2.30 𝜇g/ml and exhibit strong antiviral properties against influenza A (H1N1, H3N2, H5N1) and influenza B viruses with IC50 values ranging from 0.20 𝜇g/ml to 1.33 𝜇g/ml in a dose-dependent manner. It is worth noting that the modes of antiviral action of NTL against RSV and influenza A virus are significantly different. NTL is effective in the inhibition of RSV during the whole viral infection cycle, but the antiviral activity of NTL is mainly expressed at the early stage of the viral cycle of influenza A (H1N1) virus. NTL with a high selective index (SI=CC50/IC50 ≥ 141) resulting from its potent antiviral activity and low cytotoxicity demonstrates a potential for biotechnological development as an antiviral agent.
The non-coding elements of a genome, with many of them considered as junk earlier, have now started gaining long due respectability, with microRNAs as the best current example. MicroRNAs bind preferentially to the 3′ untranslated regions (UTRs) of the target genes and negatively regulate their expression most of the time. Several microRNA:target prediction softwares have been developed based upon various assumptions and the majority of them consider the free energy of binding of a target to its microRNA and seed conservation. However, the average concordance between the predictions made by these softwares is limited and compounded by a large number of false-positive results. In this study, we describe a methodology developed by us to refine microRNA:target prediction by target prediction softwares through observations made from a comprehensive study. We incorporated the information obtained from dinucleotide content variation patterns recorded for flanking regions around the target sites using support vector machines (SVMs) trained over two different major sources of experimental data, besides other sources. We assessed the performance of our methodology with rigorous tests over four different dataset models and also compared it with a recently published refinement tool, MirTif. Our methodology attained a higher average accuracy of 0.88, average sensitivity and specificity of 0.81 and 0.94, respectively, and areas under the curves (AUCs) for all the four models scored above 0.9, suggesting better performance by our methodology and a possible role of flanking regions in microRNA targeting control. We used our methodology over genes of three different pathways – toll-like receptor (TLR), apoptosis and insulin – to finally predict the most probable targets. We also investigated their possible regulatory associations, and identified a hsa-miR-23a regulatory module.
pp 119-126 Review
The Fungal Genetics Stock Center (FGSC) was established in 1960 to ensure that important strains used in early genetics research were available to subsequent generations of fungal geneticists. Originally, only mutant strains were held. At present, any organism that has had its genome sequenced is a genetic system and so the FGSC has added many new organisms. The FGSC is well integrated in its core community and, as research came to depend on cloned genes, vectors and gene libraries, the FGSC included these materials. When the community expanded to include plant and human pathogens, the FGSC adopted these systems as well. Wild isolates from around the world have also proven instrumental in answering important questions. The FGSC holds tremendous diversity of the Neurospora species, which form the core of the collection. The growth in the number of strains distributed illustrates the growth in research on fungi. Because of its position near the centre of the fungal genetics effort, the FGSC is also the first to see trends in research directions. One recent example is the 300% jump in requests for strains of Neurospora crassa carrying a mutation that makes them sensitive to high salt concentration. These strains were seldom requested over many years, but became among our most popular resources following the demonstration of their utility in studying fungicide resistance. This exemplifies why materials need to be preserved without regard to their immediate perceived value and reinforces the need for long-term support for preservation of a broad variety of genetic resources.
pp 127-160 Review
Lysozymes (EC 188.8.131.52) are hydrolytic enzymes, characterized by their ability to cleave the 𝛽-(1,4)-glycosidic bond between 𝑁-acetylmuramic acid and 𝑁-acetylglucosamine in peptidoglycan, the major bacterial cell wall polymer. In the animal kingdom, three major distinct lysozyme types have been identified – the c-type (chicken or conventional type), the g-type (goose-type) and the i-type (invertebrate type) lysozyme. Examination of the phylogenetic distribution of these lysozymes reveals that c-type lysozymes are predominantly present in the phylum of the Chordata and in different classes of the Arthropoda. Moreover, g-type lysozymes (or at least their corresponding genes) are found in members of the Chordata, as well as in some bivalve mollusks belonging to the invertebrates. In general, the latter animals are known to produce i-type lysozymes. Although the homology in primary structure for representatives of these three lysozyme types is limited, their three-dimensional structures show striking similarities. Nevertheless, some variation exists in their catalytic mechanisms and the genomic organization of their genes. Regarding their biological role, the widely recognized function of lysozymes is their contribution to antibacterial defence but, additionally, some lysozymes (belonging to different types) are known to function as digestive enzymes.
pp 161-161 Erratum
Recent advances in Deccan volcanic studies indicate three volcanic phases with the phase-1 at 67.5 Ma followed by a 2 m.y. period of quiescence. Phase-2 marks the main Deccan volcanic eruptions in Chron 29r near the end of the Maastrichtian and accounts for ∼80% of the entire 3500 m thick Deccan lava pile. At least four of the world’s longest lava flows spanning 1000 km across India and out into the Gulf of Bengal mark phase-2. The final phase-3 was smaller, coincided with the early Danian Chron 29n and also witnessed several of the longest lava flows.
The KT boundary and mass extinction was first discovered based on planktic foraminifera from shallow marine intertrappean sediments exposed in Rajahmundry quarries between the longest lava flows of the main volcanic phase-2 and smaller phase-3. At this locality early Danian (zone P1a) planktic foraminiferal assemblages directly overlie the top of phase-2 eruptions and indicate that the masse extinction coincided with the end of this volcanic phase. Planktic foraminiferal assemblages also mark the KT boundary in intertrappean sediments at Jhilmili, Chhindwara, where freshwater to estuarine conditions prevailed during the early Danian and indicate the presence of a marine seaway across India at KT time.
Dinosaur bones, nesting sites with complete eggs and abundant eggshells are known from central India surrounding the hypothesized seaway through the Narmada-Tapti rift zone. A Maastrichtian age is generally assigned to these dinosaur remains. Age control may now be improved based on marine microfossils from sequences deposited in the seaway and correlating these strata to nearby terrestrial sequences with dinosaur remains.
Volume 42 | Issue 4